Special to the QCS
Mesalands Community College has established a scholarship in memory of Joe Cooper of Tucumcari, who contributed to Mesalands’ Dinosaur Museum from its early days to the present.
Cooper died in an auto accident north of Clovis in December.
“Joe Cooper had a significant impact on the success of the Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory, from inception to present day,” said Thomas W. Newsom, president of Mesalands. “This scholarship in memory of Joe Cooper, is just a small token of our appreciation for everything that he and his wife Marge have done in support of education.”
Cooper was a founding member of the Museum and purchased many fossils in Tucson, Ariz. His monetary donations also greatly contributed to the museum’s opening preparations in 2000.
In the Buy-A- Bone Campaign to raise funds for the Museum, Cooper donated the price of the ring finger of the museum’s 40-foot-long Torvosaurus dinosaur skeleton as an anniversary gift for his wife, Marge. He also sponsored a raptor exhibit at the Museum in honor of his parents, John and Vida Cooper.
Cooper donated a large crystalized golden ammonite now on display at the Museum. Cooper also donated one of the oldest specimens in the museum, a trilobite fossil that is approximately 500 million years old and is located in the Life Over Time exhibit.
Cooper, with help from Craig Currell and Mike Lucero, created the C&L Repair Junkyard Dinosaurs located outside of Building C on campus.
Cooper was a member of the Mesalands Community College Foundation, Inc. He was also a charter member of Fossil Friends, the Museum’s volunteer and support program. Before he died, he served as the treasurer of Fossil Friends. He was a docent for the annual Elderhostel tours to the Museum. Cooper also volunteered many years with the Earth Day event at Tucumcari’s Outdoor Classroom for public school students next to Tucumcari Elmentary School.
“Joe Cooper was a very dear friend and I valued his friendship,” said Gretchen Gürtler, director of the college’s Dinosaur Museum and Natural Sciences Laboratory. “He was always willing to help anytime that I called him, whether it was guest lecturing for a class, or whenever I needed a docent for the Elderhostel group. He was always available. He will really be missed. He was just an integral part of this Museum.”
Cooper’s family has donated his collection of geology books and videos to the Mesalands Library.
The foundation is now seeking donations for the Joe and Marge Cooper Memorial Scholarship fund. For more information, or to send a donation, contact Gretchen Gürtler at 461-4413, ext. 253, or the president’s office at 461-4413, ext. 108.